US President Donald Trump has punished officials who testified in the impeachment proceedings in a move seen as exacting revenge in the aftermath of the his acquittal in by the senate.
Lt Colonel Alexander Vindman, a member of the president’s national security council was escorted out of the white House premises on Friday and Gordon Sondland, the US envoy to the European Union, said in a statement he had been recalled with immediate effect. Vindman’s twin brother Lt Colonel Yevgeny Vindman, who also served int he NSC, was also relieved of his duties. The two brother are serving US military officers and will be reassigned.
More firings of officials are expected. Several officials who also testified have already left. Former US ambassador to Ukraine Maria Yovanovitch, a career foreign service official, retired last month; her replacement in acting capacity William Taylor, was recalled . Vice-Presidential aide Jennifer Williams and NSC official Tim Morrison left on their own. Some, however, remain in service.
‘Well, I’m not happy with him,’ the president told reporters just hours before Vindman’s removal from the NSC. ‘You think I’m supposed to be happy with him? I’m not.’
Vindman, and Williams, had listened in on the July 25 phone call in which President Trump had pressed the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice-President Joe Biden, the potential Democratic rival for the White House in the November 2020 election, and his son Hunter Biden.
He had testified in the House of Representatives that they had found the president’s investigation request improper.inappropriate and concerning. Sondland had testified there was a qui pro quo in the White House’s efforts to force Ukraine to probe the Bidens.
Based on these and other testimonies the House of Representatives impeached Trump in December, making him only the third American president impeached. The Wednesday acquittal prevented his dismissal from office as urged by the House Democrats, but it did no overturn his impeachment.
The president is now calling for the House to ‘expunge’ his impeachment saying it was a ‘hoax’